Tuesday, May 14, 2013

P (2) is for POTOROO

I had to include the potoroo as their story is such a wonderful one and we can only hope it will continue to be so.

Gilbert's Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) was named after the man who originally found the species in 1840; John Gilbert.  There are currently no wild members of this species.  Gilbert's potoroo can only be found in Two People's Bay Nature Reserve near Albany in the south of Western Australia.

In 1994 a Gilbert's potoroo was discovered at the Two People's Nature Reserve after not being seen in over one hundred years.  This species is classified as 'ENDANGERED".  Due to the recent rediscovery of the Gilbert's potoroo, there is little information available on this species. The main habitat requirement appears to be dense vegetation for shelter and open vegetation nearby to locate food.  The potoroos appear to be solitary and able to function during both day and night. A nest is built of various plant materials where there is suitable shelter from vegetation.

The average head and body measurement of a Gilbert's potoroo is roughly 280mm (about 11 ins) with an average tail measurement of 220mm (about 8 ins).   850gms (1.874 lbs) seems to be the average weight of a potoroo.  The fur is a rusty colour with grey hairs dispersed throughout.  The underbelly is white and the head is grey.  It has short, round ears with some pink coloration on the inside.  The tail is coloured similarly to the rest of the body.  The front paws are curled under.

The age of sexual maturity for Gilbert's potoroo is known only approximately.  Females can produce young at 750gm when they are less than 12 months old but males apparently do not mature until they reach around two years of age.  Young are produced at any time of the year and are born 4-6 weeks after mating and are approximately 1cm long at that stage.  They spend 3-4 months in the pouch before coming out for the first time at around 150gm body weight. Within a week, at around 190gm, they have permanently left the pouch, although for about a month they will still suckle from their mother.  Young potoroos begin to eat solid food as soon as they leave the pouch and over the next few months they gain, on average, 6gms/day.  They remain in their mother's home range for another month or two but at about six months of age, when they weigh about 500-600gms they will leave.

This small marsupial is teetering on the brink of extinction and its numbers are so low that a chance event such as a bushfire or a drought could push the species into extinction.  It is estimated there are only 30 to 40 animals in the only known 'wild' population, with an additional 40 to 50 animals in two translocated conservation colonies.  This limited population means that critically endangered Gilbert's potoroo is Australia's rarest mammal.  The Potoroo Action Group is fighting to keep this little creature safe.

If anyone should be interested then Google Gilbert's Potoroo and you will find information about the recovery plan established to hopefully keep this animal alive and well.

We have been to Two People's Bay when we've holidayed in Albany and it is the most beautiful place. No, we didn't see a potoroo but would have been delighted had we done so.


  1. I am surprised that after being considered extinct for so long that the Potoroo is only considered endangered and not critically so. Another one to cross my fingers and toes for.

  2. I did further research EC and now find that the potoroo is definitely classified as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED as it should be. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. A bad slip on my part for not re-checking that point. Yes, we need more fingers to cross for all those poor creatures whose futures are at stake.

  3. Sweet litle guys. Sounds like they are pretty smart to 'keep their heads low' for 100 years. Probably figured, 'out of sight, out of mind' lol.

  4. Like so many of our endemic species there is something cute about these little fellows. Two People's Bay is a reasonably quiet area. That is where they found the Noisy Scrub bird as well...another endangered species. Perhaps I'll do a series on birds of Australia and the world and include him in that series.